We caught up with John for another industry catch-up to see what’s happening in the property market and find out whether now is a good time to buy or sell and what to expect. Pour a cup of something and enjoy his insights…
What is the current market like?
It’s functioning, it’s workable. We take a property on with an expectation of selling it as long as it’s well priced. Sometimes in all honesty, we don’t know what the price is going to be, and we are always finding our way through guide pricing and keeping a keen eye on the market. The investment, or quasi-investment properties that were selling previously (holiday homes that are part lived in and part rented out), or a student let for a child studying at the university, are selling less. There are fewer investment properties, and we are seeing many more private homes selling. Good homes are selling strong, perhaps at a few percent less than last year but last year was peak. We have agreed 17 sales this month so it’s still pretty steady.
We aren’t always getting the asking price - the expectation has always been that we would get the full asking price and historically we do at Heather & Lay. In fact, 85% of our properties last year sold for full asking price or above. But we are in a more “normal” market now and so sometimes houses are selling for slightly less and I think it’s important to be realistic about this. It is no good visiting a potential vendor and telling them an inflated price to win the business. That will only end in the property not selling and neither the vendor nor the agency wins when that happens. It is much more important to be honest about the market and the potential price of the house, rooted in research and groundwork, knowing the market and the properties in the area. And that has always been the Heather & Lay way. We aren’t just about winning the business, but ensuring we see the sale through, so sometimes our price is a little more conservative, but we can have confidence knowing what the house will actually sell for. We don’t want to reduce all the time because constant reductions are not good, and it is possible to miss the initial traction for the house sale if you pitch your price wrongly in the first place. So, pricing a property properly is really important.
We are not immune to reductions, and it is happening across the board, but we also know the reason we get less reductions is because of our pricing strategy and our experience. We have been through a lot of market peaks and troughs, valued a lot of properties and really got a handle on how much something will go for. We would rather be realistic and get the sale than to miss the mark and therefore miss the market and end up having to reduce six weeks later.
We try to be creative and adaptable to the situation. That might be an example of someone receiving less than the asking price for their property, but often they will be able to negotiate on their purchase, so that less on paper can be made up at the next step. But also, in the example of an unexpected renegotiation, we can work through the chain to minimise the disruption of this and rather than our vendor having to reduce by a substantial amount, to encourage the chain to negotiate a little to accommodate it as a whole. It’s so important to treat each sale on a case-by-case basis and be creative in our approach. We are still finding our way in what continues to be an unpredictable market, but we know that remaining agile and adaptable are key to getting the high level of completion that we are renowned for.
This month we’ve agreed sales from a parcel of land at £40,000 to a modern seafront property at £1.4 million so everything is selling well across the board.
Is it a good time to go on the market?
Absolutely. This time of year, houses sell really well but sometimes it’s not the right time to sell and that’s OK as well. I visited a potential property a few weeks ago with a beautiful garden which is a real highlight. They will be ready to go on the market in November, but I have advised them to wait. I know that their property will get a much better reception in spring when the garden is in full bloom. I really enjoy giving advice that isn’t to my commercial benefit, it’s rewarding, and I know that will make a difference to them. For us, it’s another property, and a beautiful one to sell, but our market is consistent throughout the year. I know that if they wait until spring, they will get a better pick of purchasers because it presents their property in the best light.
Every property and scenario is different and we are never simply pricing a house. We are looking at the needs of the vendor – why they are selling, whether they have found somewhere themselves (as that can affect our advice), what they would like to make from their property and the pros and cons to the timing as well as the pricing. A lot depends on the level of need. We have a variety of buyers currently, including first time buyers which is good to see. There are some products available to help first time buyers such as 100% mortgages and with the rental market as it is currently and rental prices increasing, some people are thinking now is a good time to get on the property ladder and invest in their first home.
And what about people looking to go on the market for the remainder of the year?
This area has always done well so it’s allowing the ebb and flow and understanding the fluctuations in the market. We are in a very fortunate location. It’s a popular place to buy, even in the “bad times” but it does mean adapting to market conditions and pricing properly.
It is so important to pre-empt any problems before going on the market to avoid potential renegotiations down the line. We are looking for that when we visit so we can give the best advice on what might be needed such as an up-to-date mundic report or issues with foam insulation which sadly we have seen a lot of. This insulation can render a property non-mortgageable so it’s about making our vendors aware of things that could potentially affect their price and mitigating that from the beginning to get them the best return.
What sort of properties are selling?
Quite a lot of owners of student properties would achieve a greater price as a family home than as an investment property. When we visit a property, this is what we can talk about. We can see the potential of the property, explain what the market is responding to and advise on how the customer will best be positioned. It makes a massive difference to someone without a mortgage on an investment property compared to someone coming in with a buy to let, so sometimes it really is in the best interests of the vendor to convert back into a family home prior to entering the market. Each circumstance and situation is different from the next, but this is where an estate agency is worth their salt as vendors can rely on our expertise to advise and guide them through this. We do the work to ensure we have a combination of comparable evidence combined with market experience. A lot goes into the thought process behind a property valuation.
So, just to conclude – for anyone thinking of going on the market, now is a good time to sell?
Yes, it feels like it. There is a much more positive attitude to buying and there feels like a need to get on with life. We all want stability, and it feels like the market is moving much better now. There’s still uncertainty but whereas before, people were afraid to go on the market and there was a lot of fear in the media, things seem to have settled a bit and there’s an understanding that yes, a vendor may take a little less on your property, but they will likely pay a little less for their purchase as well. And as always, there’s no commitment. So, it never hurts to go on the market and see what happens.
I’ve just been to see a beautiful piece of land in Budock Water, 2 acres of broadleaf woodland with ponds. There are deer that visit and the most unusual birds. It’s a real sanctuary and a peaceful place to be.
How long were you there John to notice all of the birds?
I use Birdy! It’s an amazing app that lets you see what kind of birds there are at a property. There are some really rare ones. Have you not heard of the birds of Budock Water?!
I don’t know what has surprised us more, the rare birds of Budock Water or John using an app that we haven’t heard of! Another interesting conversation about what is happening in the market. Thank you so much to John and I hope this is helpful. We are always happy to talk to potential customers about their property. We can give personal advice and honest price guides to give an indication of what may be likely to achieve for their property and why. Do give the office a call to arrange a no-obligation valuation and in the meantime, keep an eye out for John birdwatching!